New Zealand gang put teen on path of criminal lifestyle
A TEENAGER broke into a childcare centre, stole its minivan and drove it drunk across Rockhampton before crashing into a pole and then a house full of sleeping residents.
Te Ariki Horo, 18, pleaded guilty in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday to one count of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, four counts of breaking and entering to commit indictable offences, one of fleeing the scene of a crash and one of possessing a drug utensil.
Defence lawyer Caitlin Shannon-Dear said Horo moved to Australia at nine years old with his father.
She said he returned to New Zealand to visit his mother for two weeks, but she would not return Horo to his father, who had custody.
Ms Shannon-Dear said Horo ended up surrounded by gang activity, including violence and drugs, for 10 months before his father was able to get him returned to Australia under the Hague Convention (a treaty that provides a method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent).
She said this was where he was exposed to drugs and led to his methamphetamine use in Australia.
Ms Shannon-Dear said Horo had been trying to address his problem with alcohol by attending counselling and also Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week.
"He recently suffered a black eye for refusing to engage in drinking with peers," she said.
Ms Shannon-Dear said Horo was honest with police when he told them he had been drinking the night of the minivan crash on February 3 and had fallen asleep behind the wheel.
Horo had also broken into the Zarraffa's drive through off Musgrave St in April, along with an activewear store and a woman's vehicle.
Police prosecutor Shayne Studdert said Horo's criminal history included five wilful damage convictions, five enter premise and commit indictable offences, public nuisance and possessing a knife in a public place.
"Clearly he has no respect for the law," he said.
Magistrate Jeff Clarke said the offending was planned and premeditated, with Horo and his co-offenders acting as lookouts, covering hands and faces, and being armed with items to assist the break-in.
"Sadly, at your young age, you have embarked on a criminal lifestyle," he said.
Mr Clarke sentenced Horo to six months' prison and ordered he pay $1080 restitution to the childcare centre.
Horo was also disqualified from driving for six months.
He was on a suspended sentence at the time of the offending, which Mr Clarke activated wholly, to be served concurrently with the six-month term.
A parole release date was set for July 11, but Horo will be remanded in custody on charges outstanding in the District Court.